22:32 Wed.
14 Aug, 2013

Can't feel my legs (again)!

Day 6 , 141 remain
Lulea , Sweden
17 °C
Fair
4:06 am
9:01 pm

I don’t know why, but last few days I’ve been waking up around 5 am. Maybe because at this time sun starts to shine right on to my bed. Usually I’m too tired to think about this so I just turn around and sleep some more. Today was a bit different as I actually managed to drag myself to the window and to my surprise there was a lot of mists in surrounding forests. I will try to take some better pictures of this event, maybe from that hill I mentioned in previous post if I’ll manage to get up there in the middle of the night.

Misty morning
Misty morning Luleå

When I finally woke up around 10 AM, I decided to go for a long walk alongside beaches, through centre of the city and back home. I departed at around 11 AM. First I went south-west to the seaside and then south-east toward town centre. I took quite a lot of pictures as I walked. There were lots of benches and small piers, with picnic areas, all the way alongside beach.

Picnic area
Picnic area

When I reached bench for single person I couldn’t but help to think about “Forever alone” image and how people say that Swedes are shy. Here is the bench:

Forever alone bench
Forever alone bench, where else but Sweden? 🙂

As I continued my journey I decided to skip centre first and go around nearby forest. Grounds of the forest were filled with blueberry bushes and some of them still had berries on them. I think I was at those bushes for about an hour, eating I’d say almost 0.5kg of blueberries before continuing.

Blueberries in the forest.
Blueberries in the forest.

 

As I was preparing to continue to walk again I heard strange pecking noise in the trees. I looked up and found woodpecker at work. I don’t think I ever saw woodpecker in nature yet. I quickly changed current photo lens with a zoom one and tried to take some photos. The trees were quite tall and this lens is not as good as it could be so the picture is not as sharp as I would want it to be.

Woodpecker
Woodpecker

 

After taking a few shots I went on my way again, shortly to arrive to the beach with sand, volleyball court and again some people swimming. I really don’t know if these Swedes don’t feel cold or what but I was wearing jeans and long t-shirt and was a bit cold. They were in those swimming suits swimming in ice cold (I checked) sea like it was the warmest day of the year.
I forgot to mention that after this people were looking at me even stranger than usually, I later found out that I was all purple around my lips from blueberries, thankfully no one knows me in this town. 🙂

Luleå from sea
Luleå from sea
Luleå from sea
Luleå from sea

Not long after that I was on the main street of Lulea. I’ve been here twice and it has always been packed with people. Over the street there were hanging flags from all over the world, sadly I couldn’t find Slovenian. I took some more pictures of centre and went home.

Luleå city center - main road
Luleå city center – main road

At the end my legs were really starting to hurt, next time I will have to wear my running shoes and not this casual summer shoes I had today. Here is a map I recreated, it looks like I walked for bit over 20km, in about 6.5 hours.

MAP

Now that I finally have internet I can start working on my blog again. Firstly I need to create edit option so I can correct some mistakes from previous posts. After that I have to figure out what to do with scrolling, first post is quite long way down now.

23:33 Tue.
13 Aug, 2013

Home is where Wi-Fi connect automatically

Day 5 , 142 remain
Lulea , Sweden
16 °C
Partly Cloudy
4:04 am
9:06 pm

Yesterday evening I’ve met Sofi, my Swedish buddy. She is helping me get to know Lulea and how things work up here. We went on a nearby hill, hill being a strong word, because it’s only about 50m high at max, but still quite higher than the surrounding landscape. On the way up there was some construction on the road, I think they are making new cross-country ski tracks, so we had to cross something that looked like TNT filled holes. Holes were actually plugged with some red thing so it really looked like dynamite was inside. At the top the view was amazing, I was just standing there speechless, the sun was starting to set down, we could see town underneath and vast forest for as far as an eye can see. Sadly I didn’t have camera with me so no pictures from yesterday.

Luleå from nearby hill.
Luleå from nearby hill.

Today I did my first laundry (in my life), yes it’s a bit late, me being 23 years old, but still better later then never I’d say. The cloths came out the same colour as they went in so I call it great success.

After that I prepared simple lunch and as it’s become a habit lately, checked status of my internet. And what would you know, the thing was working. I couldn’t believe it at first, but finally, welcome to the 21st century. Now I can plan my trips a bit better, it’s easier to check on internet what’s interesting and what I should see rather than walking in random directions throughout Lulea.

In the evening I went up that hill again, this time with camera. I took some pictures, but sadly there were a lot of clouds in the north-west, so the view wasn’t as great as yesterday.

Sunset from nearby hill.
Sunset from nearby hill.

As I began to write this post, there were some strange noises underneath my window. I went to check and saw there were firemen underneath. It looks like there was a small fire at the corner of the building next door (looks like library), no more than 1m high. I think I saw 5 people there when I came back from the hike, guess they thought they’d have some fun and started a fire. Anyway I’m telling you this because the name for fireman (I guess) in Swedish is ridiculously long, if there was a fire you’d probably burned before you would be able to call “Räddningstjänsten!!!”.

Firetruck
Firetruck
16:20 Mon.
12 Aug, 2013

Bank incident

Day 4 , 143 remain
Lulea , Sweden
18 °C
Partly Cloudy
4:04 am
9:06 pm

Yesterday I went for a walk around Björkskatan (district where I live now). The walking/cycling tracks are really nicely maintained and there are a lot of them, through the forests, near the sea, through town, everywhere. I finished the walk near university (yes I still don’t have internet) and found something between pond and lake full of (baby) ducks; a great setting for photos.

Duck near campus's pond
Duck near campus’s pond

Later I managed to set up my Swedish phone number and with a nice surprise, I got a (bonus) 500MB of data for free. I paid 100SEK for fill up card, and got for (it says) 800 SEK worth of mobile data, it’s really handy now that I don’t have internet at home yet. Although the amount of data provided is not enough for normal web browsing, it’s enough to check e-mails and some chat over Skype. Oh yes, and they have 4G coverage everywhere (in the middle of forest, although this middle of forest is in the centre of town :)).

Today I had a long day. I started at 11’o clock, and went to the landlord to ask for translation of one paper and to fill in complaint about fire alarm and window. Fire alarm was buzzing all the time, they told me to change the batteries (I knew that, but wanted to get away without having to buy new ones; sadly this plan didn’t work). The window is causing more problems, it’s almost impossible to close and trust me, here you want to close windows in the evenings. Lastly I asked about the internet and they gave me phone number of ISP support.

After that I walk to the centre of the town to pay rent at the bank. The main street was surprisingly crowded, I didn’t expect so much people there. Shortly after I found a bank and went it. When I asked if I can pay the bills I was in for a shock, I would have to be a member of the bank in order to pay the bill, so I went on a search for another bank. I found a small bank / currency exchange thing, where I was told I could pay the rent. After waiting in line for quite some time I was finally able to pay 2 bills (rent for 2 months) and I was in for a real shock next, the fee was 50 SEK (around 6€) for each bill (I changed bank in Slovenia to get 10 cents cheaper fees per bills…). Guess I’ll try to pay rent over Slovenian banks from now on.

After paying rent I went for a bit of sight-seeing through centre of Lulea. The main street is very nice, full of shops, restaurants and hotels. There are very few traffic lights in the town and even where they are, people just go over the street even if there’s a red light on. Maybe there is some rule that you can cross if there is no traffic, I’ll have to check this one out. On my way home I took some pictures and found few people swimming in the sea. What the heck, I was wearing jeans and long warm shirt and was still a bit cold, and they were swimming? Well at least when the girl was going in she was screaming so it must have been cold.

When I came home I decided I should call ISP support line to try to get my internet going. After 15 minutes of explaining the problem (and spelling my name 8 times), we determined that it’s not possible for me to register on some form because I don’t have Swedish security number. They said that they will forward my problem to the IT that is configuring internet in/for Lulebo (landlord) apartments. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect before end of the week.

20:53 Sat.
10 Aug, 2013

New Home

Day 2 , 145 remain
Lulea , Sweden
16 °C
Fair
3:51 am
9:16 pm

After few steps I realize just how cold it was. It looks like the train had heating turned on, so I was only wearing shorts and t-shirt, later I learned that it was 8 degrees, at 7 AM on 9th of August 2013. I think I can safely say, that I haven’t been anywhere near this cold in the middle of the summer yet.

I was supposed to meet with Fredrik (he is taking care of Erasmus students arrival up here) at 9 AM at the university, so I figured out I could just walk up there rather than sit in that cold. In retrospect this was one of the stupidest ideas I had in a long time. I had 2 suitcases and one bag with me, total of 50kg. As I later learned the distance from train station to university is around 6km. At first the walk went easily but after midway my hands really started to hurt. One suitcase has some weird wheel-handle thing so I was basically carrying it all the way instead of dragging it on wheels. The walk went very slowly after midway as I had to exchange places of suitcases, to rest the arm that was carrying the weird one. To top it off my hands began to sweat so the handles began to slip away every few meters. As a result of this, I’ve arrived to university shortly before 9 AM, with no feelings in my arms (part from heavy lifting, part from cold). Now it is 1 day later, and my arms and shoulders still hurt.

Shortly after my arrival at university Fredrik had come. He handed me some contracts to sign, keys to the apartment and gave me basic information that I’ll need while I’m staying up here. After that he got me a cab and I was on my way to Väderleden 11, my new home for the next 5 months.

After unpacking I went to sleep and I really needed it, I don’t think I slept for more than 5 hours in the past 2 days. After that I noticed that I have no internet connection (Fredrik warned me that it’s possible that my account for internet is not set up yet) so I decided to make a walk to the university and to possibly take some photos on the way.

Sunset in Sweden.
Sunset at 10.30PM

I’ve arrived to the university at around 9 PM. I was surprised to see how many people were still walking around campus. Shortly after I found a table with benches where I was still in range of university’s Wi-Fi. As I was sitting there I noticed that there were really a lot of mosquitos flying around and trying (some actually succeeded) some Slovenian blood. I left for home at around 10.30 PM with still enough light so that street lights needn’t be turned on.

Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake

This was one of the reasons I was so excited to come up here in the middle of summer. There is light from around 3 AM to around 11 PM and then the sky never goes completely black, but turns red at horizon. My room is facing north, so I was able to look at red horizon through all the night (not that I was able to, I was so tired I fell asleep in minutes, but I had my alarm set every hour to check the sky). It was interesting to see how the brightest part of the sky slowly moved from west to north and to east again. In Slovenia we are used to the sunset on the west and then teleport of sun to the east in the morning. It’s too bad I couldn’t arrived a month earlier, back then there was no night at all, but still I have experienced the longest lasting day of my life.

There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.
There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.
21:45 Fri.
9 Aug, 2013

Train ride

Day 1 , 146 remain
Lulea , Sweden
15 °C
Fair
3:49 am
9:21 pm

After landing at ARN airport, I found small trolley for baggage and began to explore the place. Airport is quite big, you need around 20-30minutes to walk from one side to another (on the same floor) and there are 3 floors in total. Airport features lots of shops and restaurants.

Throughout whole airport there was available Wi-Fi, the bigger challenge was to find electricity socket. Luckily there was some kind of waiting area just above train station with comfortable couches, electricity sockets and great view on the runway.

Arlanda airport.
Stocholm airport.

The airport was the first opportunity to spend some SEK (Swedish krona). Among restaurants there was a McDonalds, it’s prices were approximately 2 times higher than in Slovenia, sadly I’ll have to learn that this is true for all service here in Sweden. Standard menu (burger, fries, drink) costs around 70-90 SEK (around 10€), while large drink costs 20 SEK (2.3€).

Around 6’o clock I went down to the train station, which is located below airport and forms (if I remember correctly) the longest tunnel in Sweden (2km or something). Train station is small and only has two platforms with few benches to sit on. Sadly my train was delayed for 20 minutes, which is insane since this is the 3rd stop on the route Stockholm-Lulea.

Arlanda airport underground train station.
Arlanda airport underground train station.

The train ride from Stockholm to Lulea lasts around 12 hours. Because of this I chose the sleepers wagon, with 6 cosy bunk beds. After finding my room I thankfully learned that I’ll only be sharing it with 1 person (instead of 5). The guy I was sharing room with was from Algeria and was working in Sweden. He said that he was regular traveller with this train, so he knew how to prepare bunk beds (in the day time they are folded, so people can sit rather than lie). After talking for a bit with this guy (I never learned his name), I went and prepared for sleep. What really surprised me was the toilet, it was actually nicer than in Venice airport and to no comparison to Slovenian “hole in the floor” toilets on trains.
The room was equipped with electricity sockets, which was really nice as I was finally able to watch Scarface before I went to sleep.

Sleeper train SJ.

Even if I was really tired I barely slept. When the train went in to a curve, it slightly moved me from one to other side of the bed. The train was electrical, so it was very quiet, but still wagons (and people from other rooms) were making quite a lot of noise. I woke up at around 5 am, with sun quite high on the sky. I went to the corridor in front of rooms, to watch landscape from there (there were really big windows in this corridor). Scenery was beautiful with lots of lakes and the trees were everywhere.

Sweden from train.
First morning in Sweden

At 7 am I disembark the train, I have arrived to Lulea.

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